Introducing……..

roo sleep

That’s right my WordPress friends……..I have given birth to a beautiful baby girl!

I realise I have been a little off the WordPress radar recently and she is the main reason as to why! The last ten days have been a very tiring and intense journey which has resulted in the early delivery of this little mite. Baby is seven weeks premature and sadly remains in hospital as my husband and I have returned home. We are finding it very hard to be without her and know what she is doing or how she is getting on but we know she is having the best care possible and needs to be monitored. Her health and growth are more important to us than anything else.

I want to share my journey with you from the last ten days. From the day my waters broke at work (yes really) to the adventure and journey it will be towards getting our baby girl home. I always said my last post for freefromhim would be the day my baby was born. However, this little chick came seven weeks early, eager and unexpected and we have a long road ahead of us to get her home. On that day, I will bid you all a fond farewell and continue on my own personal journey towards happiness and clarity.

In the meantime, keep us in your hearts and minds. Pray and think of the little one and send over good wishes.

So, ladies and gentlemen of WordPress and beyond, introducing………………….

Ivy-Wren 

xxxxxxxxx

30 weeks and back to work!

Can you believe it? On Monday, I will have reached the 30 week mark in my pregnancy. Since entering the third trimester, I have had a head cold, tummy troubles, insomnia and an asthma attack and it’s only been 2 weeks! Thankfully, all those ailments seem to be wearing off. Baby’s movements have changed significantly in the last five weeks. From light flutters and tingles, baby began ‘rolling’ in the tummy. Now, we are able to see clear little kicks and ‘bounces’. Baby is very active (unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for after birth!) but we’d rather be feeling something than not.

We have listened to it’s heartbeat several times this month at numerous hospital appointments and of course at the hospital when I had my attack. Baby’s heart is sounding very healthy so we are all feeling relieved and happy.

Symptoms wise, I am not feeling too bad. The night time is the worst for me currently as my sleeping pattern has become rather unbearable. In fact, I am barely sleeping at all. It doesn’t help that I find it easier to sleep in the day which sadly, very soon, will not be possible as…………

On Monday I will be going back to work!

For some reason this has surprised a few people this month but there is no other way. My husband and I aren’t really in a position to reject another month’s wage and to be honest I would rather be busy than lounge around at home. I know it is good for mummy to keep up some light exercise during the third trimester and my hours journey to work and back should incorporate that much needed exercise. I think people are more shocked as I am not going to be sitting at a desk all day – if only! No, as I work in a school, my day is likely to be slightly more hectic! However, I have no intention to overdo it. I know my colleagues will be very supportive too.

So to all you worriers! DON’T WORRY!!

I’ll look after baby and myself ūüôā

 

 

Sleeping in Pregnancy – What to Expect.

As my pregnancy progresses, my sleeping habits are changing too and I can only predict it’s a sign of things to come.

There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to what is right and wrong. I have looked on several forums too and many expectant mothers advise different ideas. I can only go on what’s recommended by the professionals and what has worked for me.

1. Sleep on your left side only- A difficult task I find for the entire nine months however they do say for the first trimester it’s okay to sleep on your back. It would be my luck that I most prefer to sleep on my right side though (!) Apparently, this isn’t any good as your ever-growing uterus pushes down onto your liver which is harmful for you and the baby. So left side it is! It is by sleeping on this side that baby receives all the nutrients and oxygen it needs through the placenta and if it’s good for baby then it’s good for me.

2. Do expect to visit the toilet through the night – Sadly, this night-time adventure began for me at five weeks pregnant along with my other annoying symptoms. It has strangely become my way of life now! I’m certainly used to it after 21 weeks. Your kidneys are working super hard to accommodate the increased volume of blood that baby needs. This filter process means more trips to the loo. As baby grows, pressure is placed onto your bladder which also results in regular and frequent visits to the bathroom. Some expectant mums find this happens for them more in the day but it can equally occur at night. Last night was my personal record as I was up 7 times!! Shocking. Worst of all, this symptom gets worse during my near approaching third trimester. Joy!

3. Do drink some warm milk or herbal tea before bed – anything really that is soothing and will naturally aid your sleep. I have been having a hot mug of skimmed (non-fat) milk before bed since the start of the pregnancy. I have found it really helps to drift off into a natural sleep. If you aren’t too keen on the taste of milk, add a teaspoon of honey to it just remember to brush your teeth after!

4. The curse of the leg cramp – Sadly cannot be avoided. This symptom only started for me at month five. I have suffered from leg cramps before, usually when overweight or dehydrated. They tend to occur for both those reasons in pregnancy too. By five months your body should have gained some extra weight so naturally leg cramps will happen. Same goes for keeping hydrated. It may not keep them totally away but it certainly helps. Stretching the leg out and pointing the toes to the ceiling helps to relieve the pain.

5. Back, leg and hip pain – Different to the cramps, this pain is more of a throbbing sensation. Almost as if you have pulled a muscle. Simple solutions: For your back and hip, a pregnancy pillow I’ve heard is fantastic. It keeps you lying on your left side and takes away the pressure. For your legs, I just elevate them onto a large cushion or pillow. By the morning the pain has totally disappeared. Try to keep your legs up or raised on a chair every time you sit down too. It really helps.

6. Napping is your friend– Unfortunately, the majority of us are tied to a job for most of the day during our pregnancies so napping at the expected time (3pm- er how??) is a struggle. For the last few months when returning from work I have felt it necessary to take a little nap especially in the heat. Sadly, napping at six in the early evening is no good for falling asleep later on so I began putting off having naps only to feel exhausted the next day. Try to find a moment to get some shut eye. I found that my fifteen minute journey on the tube was a good time to have a power nap. Okay, it was nowhere near enough but it helped. Now that I’m on my five week school break (yes I know!) I can finally integrate naps into my schedule and boy, do they feel good.

Approaching the 6 month mark!

This Monday will mark 6 months of my pregnancy! I cannot believe that I have almost reached this point. The time is literally melting away. On Tuesday, I will finish work for a 5 week break (as I work in a school) and god, do I need it! The weather has been phenomenal these last few weeks and it seems that in London, it may be getting hotter for the foreseeable future. I love the sun and the heat, but being in built up London and travelling to and from work on the London Underground makes it very hard to survive and endure the sweltering temperature. Especially when pregnant. So I am very much looking forward to the option of staying indoors!

Bump: Perhaps slightly bigger especially at the top of my stomach. 

Cravings: Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, bread, butter, fish curry.

Current Health: Healthy! My head cold and cough has disappeared now. Asthma seems to be better too so generally feeling normal again.

Movement: We had a little panic last week as baby’s movement seemed to ease. I asked a friend at work for advice and she recommended asking my midwife who we’ll be seeing next Wednesday. It’s only to put my mind at ease. I have felt the little one I’m sure but having not had a baby before, it’s all still pretty new to me. Not knowing what to expect is a hindrance. The flutters and tingles happen on a regular occurrence.

Size: Baby is the size of a large mango now. 6 months and it’ll be the same size as an ear of corn!¬†

Symptoms: The beginning of a few stretch marks have appeared on either side of my belly. I’ve been using Bio-oil to help. Tiredness has reappeared and every day after work I’m ready for a long nap. I know you’re not really supposed to nap after three as it can interfere with your nightly routine. However, at 3pm, I’m at work. So no napping then!¬†

State of Mind: Feeling happy and excited for the holidays. A little annoyed by people who think every pregnancy is the same and feel it is okay to freely patronize me. Yes, yes, I know you’ve had several children and experience many a pregnancy but that doesn’t mean what I am going through bares little significance or is exaggerated. Okay?

 

Cervical Screenings: Drop the Age!

After the upsetting and tragic news that a nineteen year old girl from the UK died last week from Cervical Cancer, there has been an unprecedented amount of support flooding in for the age of smear tests to be reduced from 25. Sophie Jones was initially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease after suffering from debilitating stomach pains. However, having been refused a smear test because she was too young, her actual diagnosis of cancer went unnoticed. Sadly, it was too late when doctors finally discovered the cancer late last year.

I have signed the petition and urge you all to do the same. Please, whether you are British or Worldwide, this is a very alarming and worrying cause. Although it is of low risk for a woman of under 25 to develop Cervical Cancer, it is still a risk. It can happen.

http://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/62385

The trend on Facebook at the moment is to post a no make-up selfie and donate £3 to Cancer Research. Suffering from BDD, I have held back. However, even I know this a good cause.

Girls: Let’s make a difference to women everywhere.

Image

Photo 6 – How am I not dead?

At the end of 2013, I began a photographic story showing the state of the home I lived in with my father. I received many responses to these pictures. Mostly reactions of horror from people I know, who never really knew the extent of the conditions we lived in. They had never been witness to it. My father was very clever at disguising certain parts of the house and his dangerous eccentricities and careless nature were always well hidden. Friends and family were only allowed in the showy and presentable parts of the house. I however, saw the truth every day.

The kitchen was one of the worse rooms. It also happened to be the largest room in the house much to my father’s happiness (he saw it as his domain). Guests who visited always commented on how big it was; he loved that. But what if they had looked closer? Would they have seen the dirty and crumb filled toaster from,

(See My filthy life – Photo 3)

would they have stepped into our adjoining garage and discovered his hoarding obsession?

(See My father the hoarder ‚Äď Photo¬†2)

Would they have walked around and seen the state of the cooker? A piece of kitchen equipment that I used every day living at home with my father. An appliance that I could not do without. An essential aid to making my life as normal as possible, something that would bring me sustenance and provide me with a basic human right. But what if that appliance was spoiled, unhygienic, unsanitary and rank? What if you were forced to use a machine that hadn’t been cleaned for ten years? It was another task my father had placed in my list of chores to do. A list that went up to eighty four. A mental list that I never lost count of and never completed. My father refused to help in any way. It was not his job. It was MY fault it got into that state and MY responsibility to resolve the tainted problem. Except it was too much for me. He gained so much enjoyment watching me on my hands and knees scrubbing his precious kitchen. I could not stand the humiliation and fearing the examination of my work after.

Why did I ever let myself live like this?

I mean, how am I not dead?

Image

Dictionary.com

un·san·i·tar·y

[uhn-san-i-ter-ee]  Show IPA

adjective

not sanitary; unhealthy or unhealthful; tending to harbor or spreaddisease: unsanitary living conditions.

Broken Mirror.

She looks at herself at her tainted reflection

and is taken aback by her bland complexion.

She hates what she sees and longs to change

to look normal and pretty instead of quite strange

they will say she is shallow and seems to be vain

as she rarely reveals when she is in pain

for her hurt is hidden and her anger disguised

her fading self belief rests in her sunken eyes

She finds fault and flaws in her entire face

ridiculing each feature to debase and disgrace

a horror to see what the world can see

in the broken mirror looking back at me.

Broken Mirror

*Photo – dreamstime.com

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of ¬†“Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

2013 A review: July – September.

JULY

Summer had truly hit us in London by July. Scorching temperatures reigned over the city and finally the harsh winter had been beaten.

At the start of the month, I began recalling a series of events, linked to the exact date one year ago, that looked back on the journey towards the end of the abuse once and for all. It was a painful task. Remembering is one thing but looking back in detail, searching through old text messages and diary entries was hard. It transported me back to a terrible, stressful and bitter summer. The summer after my wedding. The summer my father, the abuser, died.

It was the month that my husband and I were told that our landlord wanted to sell the property we were renting. It came as a surprise as there had not been much of a warning. It was the last thing we needed. We were very settled where we were living. It was in an ideal location for both of us to get to work, there were plenty of shops and amenities around too. It was not ideal to move. I couldn’t bear the thought of moving into some dingy, poky apartment in a rush because we hadn’t enough time to search for somewhere decent. We made a decision. It would be a difficult one, a tiring and patience testing one but ultimately we were thankful she was willing to have us. My mother was our port of call. She agreed the sensible choice would be to live with her until my father’s inheritance was finalised and we could look for a new place.

July would be a very revealing month for me. Although I already knew my sister had begun a “secret” relationship with the abuser, I was not aware of how close they had become. After everything my sister had once accused him of, after all that she had witnessed him do to our mother (not to mention the misery of a life I led with him), I had not expected her to welcome him with open arms into her family unit. A unit she has been fiercely protective of for so many years. A family that she has banned me and any mother from seeing. Apparently, we are bad news, the cause of her depression and misery, the evil ones. Not our father. Not the man who abused me for fifteen years but the two people who spent most of their lives trying to escape his frightening hold. In her eyes, we were the enemy. I found out at the start of July that my father had planned a holiday with my sister, her husband and children. He could not go in the end due to his worsening health. I was flabbergasted. Horrified. The man that my sister could not bear to be in the same room as was now holidaying with her?? It blew my mind.

At work, I finished with a bang, holding our annual school talent show. It was a great success and the kids did me proud.

AUGUST

I continued to recall back to the events of last year on WordPress. I received several comments, mostly from friends who had no idea I was struggling so badly that summer. Even though the majority of them knew about my relationship with the abuser, most never questioned it. They never delved any further. It must have come as a shock to them to read the full truth.

I was well into my summer holidays at this point. The weather was unbelievable in London during August, we were very lucky to have so much sunshine. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked to. I spent most of the holiday packing up our flat and surprising myself at how much rubbish we had accumulated over the past two years of living there. It was an endless and tiring job as my husband was at work for most of August. Even on moving day, when David’s parents had come to help, were we still putting items into bags and shipping them off to my mums’.

The end of the month would be very significant. On the 21st I celebrated¬†the anniversary of my father’s death. I did not lay any flowers or sit down and pray. I did not shed a tear or think back to the “good times”. There were no good times. He was not worth my tears and I could not lay any flowers for I do not know what happened to his ashes. My sister only told me recently after a year of me badgering her, that after the funeral she had “picked them up”. So basically she gave me no more information than I had already assumed. I intend on letting her keep playing her childish game on her own.

As I prepared to go back to work, I was invited to a school reunion. Seeing my old primary school classmates after twenty years was incredibly uplifting. It was a wonderful experience and sent me back to a time of happiness. These people made me happy. It was lovely to be in their company again.

SEPTEMBER

Back to work!

I also began making some changes in my life. Some positive changes. I attended a course at City Lit on Assertiveness. It proved to be quite challenging. I enjoyed analysing myself and looking into types of behaviour. The course opened my mind as we explored passiveness, aggression, manipulation and assertiveness. It was very interesting to hold that magnifying glass up to myself and look more carefully at the person I had become. I am now trying to embody more assertiveness. My mother is the only person finding that difficult. For so long she was used to a passive daughter. A daughter who could not say “no” and agreed to almost everything in search for an “easy” life. Well no more. I have never had an easy life! It is time to get what I want and make a stand.

The Collins English Dictionary says –¬†

assertive 

Definitions

adjective –¬†

confident and direct in claiming one’s rights or putting forward one’s views

2013: A review January – March.

Ten more days to go until the first day of 2014. Once again, another year of my life has flown by and I am looking back on quite a year. This time however, I get to look back and share it with a new group of people: my WordPress followers, readers and fellow bloggers. What a year it has been. Lets look back together.

JANUARY

On the 6th of January, I decided to begin a blog on WordPress. It was a dangerous and risky decision. It would expose a life I had hidden from many people for over fifteen years. It would reveal truths some people would rather not know. It would portray a man (who many trusted) to be an evil, ruthless, callous and hurtful father who destroyed his daughter’s soul. It would be my story, a story that provoked people I had not seen for years. People who felt it was necessary to “warn” me and give their advice. They made it clear that I should keep my personal life “private” and that I might “hurt people”. I made it clear back that I had not set out to hurt anyone. It was much more than that. It was closure. It was freedom. It was truth. It would be a chance to speak and finally be heard. It would be the best decision I had ever made (bar leaving him of course).

FEBRUARY

On the 4th of February I celebrated five years together with David. We set our anniversary from our first kiss. It was a moment that changed my life. Gone were the men who used me and took advantage of my loyal nature. A new man had walked into my life. Little did I know that day he would make me as happy as he does now.

During this month, I received an abundance of support from old school friends and past colleagues about the blog over Facebook. I was taken aback from their kind words and blown away by their words of encouragement. It meant so much to know that there was no judgement, that people could see into my past and believe it, acknowledge it and most of all – accept it.

MARCH

I celebrated my 31st birthday on the 2nd. David took me to a South African restaurant in Central London for dinner. It was decadent and adventurous. I felt a little out of my comfort zone but enjoyed it nonetheless. Unfortunately, the food didn’t sit well within me and after a day I began to have horrific stomach pains. Within moments I was nauseous and lying over the bathroom toilet. I thought I had food poisoning but it was a severe case of gastric flu. The week after my birthday was spent at home ill. To top it off, my virus passed onto David who joined me for most of the week holed up in bed. Well Happy Birthday to me!

On WordPress I recounted the triggers that remind me of my father and his abuse. Fruit, movies, plastic knives and forks, making beds and self-help books were the entries I made in March, they continued into April with Furniture stores and Toothpicks and table manners. These triggers still happen. If I see certain objects or hear a particular piece of music, if I visit a particular place or even hear a phrase he might have said; it propels me back to a specific time where life was frightening and upsetting every day. I become emotional very quickly and find it difficult to calm down. A panic attack can be the worst reaction to one of my triggers.

March was the month where a colleague questioned my “motives” for writing this blog. She accused me of taking “revenge” on my dead father. That it was unkind and unfair to do so. It surprised me that she could not empathise with my situation nor could she understand my reasons for revealing my truths. I was annoyed by it. I did not feel I should have to justify my choices and actions to her. She did not know my father. She had not met him. She only had her morals and principles and values to go on. I have morals. I have principles and values too. That is an important part of why I decided to do this,¬†because of my values and principles. I would not be following them if I hid away and “forgave” him for all the hurt and pain he caused.

Dead or not, the truth will always shine through.